May 31, 2011
Sabeel North America | Wave of Prayer for Thursday, June 2, 2011
Each Thursday at noon in
Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the
community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the
Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives
today, and to pray for the specific needs of this
region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the
Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of
"Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time
zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray
together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in
Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in
Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we
will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues
Wave of Prayer for Thursday,
June 2, 2011
► With this
week's commemoration of the 1967 War marking Israel's invasion
and control of East Jerusalem, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the
West Bank, and especially with the Jewish celebrations for
Jerusalem Day, which marks the "unification of Jerusalem" in
violation of International Law, set to take place in the East
Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, we remember in prayer
all those who became refugees during this Naksa, or "setback,"
and those who continue to suffer under forty-four years of
illegal Israeli occupation. Our prayers and actions remain for a
just resolution based on the 1967 borders, which has long been
the basis for negotiations to ensure peace for everyone in this
May 30, 2011
America Magazine, the Catholic Weekly| Mideast Speech: Still Wary
After Obama Speech
From CNS, staff and other sources
resident Barack Obama’s call for
Israeli and Palestinian states based on Israel’s 1967 borders
met with a largely wary response from Palestinian Christians.
While the Palestinians welcomed the president’s proposal, made
in speeches on May 19 and 22—which includes mutually agreed-upon
land swaps—they doubted that Israel would easily back away from
Palestinian territory it has occupied for nearly 44 years.
Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust and a
promoter of nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation
of Palestinian territory, said: “It was like every other
president, he pushes the envelope a bit more than the previous
president. That’s not enough.” The plight of Palestinian
refugees, he said, must be recognized and solved.
May 30, 2011
America Magazine, the Catholic Weekly| Arab Spring
President Barack Obama signaled a major change in U.S. policy in
his speech on May 19 about the Arab Spring, articulating the primacy
of American values over U.S. interests in the region. “It will be
the policy of the United States,” he declared, “to promote reform
across the region and support transitions to democracy.”
The speech was a good start, perhaps even the inauguration of a
new age in diplomacy, equivalent to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648
that ended Europe’s wars of religion or the post-Napoleonic
arrangements of the Congress of Vienna in 1815. But much will depend
on determined implementation of the clearest commitments made in the
speech for aid to Egypt and Tunisia and the handling of later crises
across North Africa and the Middle East.
For Christians in the Middle East, the president’s endorsement of
religious freedom as one of the universal rights at the core of U.S.
policy is welcome....
May 28, 2011
Ann Haften, a Texas Lutheran's Voice for Middle East Peace | Actions
taken by the ELCA Metro Washington DC Synod
The ELCA's Metro DC Synod Assembly considered and passed two
resolutions related to this issue on May 7. A workshop on Kairos
Palestine on the Friday evening before was well attended:
Investment for Positive Change in Palestine - This memorial
requests action of the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to encourage
various expressions of the ELCA “to consider making positive
economic investments in those Palestinian projects and businesses
that peacefully strengthen the economic and social fabric of
Kairos Palestine Response - Reception of the “Kairos Palestine
document” is resolved by this action and affirmation of its belief
that "The mission of the Church is prophetic, to speak the Word of
God courageously, honestly and lovingly in the local context and in
hte midst of daily events.” An invitation to Bishop Munib A. Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, to speak
with our synod members will be extended by this resolution.
Memorialized actions for consideration of the 2011 ELCA
Churchwide Assembly include encouraging discussion of the Kairos
Palestine document in other parts of the ELCA and review of how
investment fund management within the ELCA including the ELCA
Foundation and ELCA Board of Pensions.
Nathan Rich heads up the ELCA Metro DC Synod Middle East Working
May 28, 2011
World Council of Churches | World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel
29 May - 4 June 2011
Joint action for just peace convened by the World Council of
The World Council of Churches invites member churches and related
organizations to join a week of advocacy and action for a just peace
in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the
globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to
take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international
During the most recent World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel,
from 29 May to 4 June 2010, churches in more than 20 countries
around the world sent a clear signal to policy-makers, community
groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace
settlement that secures the legitimate rights and future of both
peoples. Participants planned their activities around the following
1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special
prayer from Jerusalem.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts
on the ground that do not create peace, especially settlements in
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies
that promote peace with justice.
May 21, 2011
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America | Obama speech resonates with
ELCA Mideast principles, says presiding bishop
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said he
appreciated President Barack Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle
East and agreed that "the status quo" in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is unsustainable.
Hanson also said the speech contained principles that resonate
with those in previous ELCA statements on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and the region.
Hanson made the comments in a May 20 public statement in response
to Obama's speech delivered at the State Department in Washington,
Regarding developments throughout the Middle East and North
Africa, Hanson said the ELCA upholds "the right to
self-determination so that the God-given dignity of all people is
respected and recognized. This principle, though, must be fully
realized everywhere, without exception, so that peace, justice and
development will be possible."
In addition to his statement, Hanson was among 29 Christian,
Muslim and Jewish leaders who sent a letter to Obama today offering
support for "strong, sustained U.S. leadership, in coordination with
the Quartet, to press for agreement on a two-state peace agreement
before it is too late." The religious leaders urged Obama to visit
Jerusalem and the region soon to meet with Israeli and Palestinian
leaders to restart negotiations.
May 18, 2011
Zenit | UK Charity Director a Witness to Mideast Violence
Reports Christians' Hope for Pilgrims
BETHLEHEM, MAY 17, 2011 (Zenit.org).- War is never far away, a
resident in south Lebanon told the U.K. director of Aid to the
Church in Need, who was in the Middle East to witness Sunday's
clashes between Palestinians and Israelis.
Masses of Palestinian protesters headed for the Israeli border at
different locations Sunday, where they were met with gun fire on the
Syrian border with the Golan Heights, and the Lebanon and the Gaza
Strip borders. Perhaps nearly two dozen Palestinians were killed and
dozens more injured.
Aid to the Church in Need U.K. Director Neville Kyrke-Smith was
in the area visiting Christian communities supported by the Catholic
"It has been a very tense past few days and you could feel that
tension in the outlying streets of Bethlehem," he said.
Every May 15, there is an annual heightening of tensions as
Palestinians mark Nakba (“Catastrophe”) Day, the creation of the
Israeli state. Israel celebrates its independence day a few days
earlier. This year, the hostility was particularly notable as the
Arab spring sweeps through the region, and Palestinians aim to seek
statehood at the United Nations in September.
Kyrke-Smith described heightened security in Israel as well as
the West Bank, saying that he was stopped at three check-points
between Bethlehem and Jericho.
"The Israeli forces were obviously concerned after uprisings and
incursions on their borders. They had brought in some heavy
security," he said.
Kyrke-Smith also reported the quick clean up by Palestinian armed
forces in preparation for Monday's visit to Bethlehem of Italian
President Giorgio Napolitano and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Napolitano announced that Italy is joining several other European
nations that have upgraded Palestinian representation to diplomatic
status, giving its representative the role of ambassador.
Meanwhile, Kyrke-Smith noted a plea from a nun in the region:
"Help keep the frontier open," she said. "Please come," referring to
the importance of pilgrimages to the Holy Land as a form of
solidarity for the Christians there.
May 16, 2011
Zenit | Benedict XVI Calls for Peace in Libya, Syria
VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI spoke today
of the rebellions in Libya and Syria, calling for peace and
solutions to the conflicts.
The Pope mentioned the two nations today before praying the
midday Regina Caeli with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"I continue to follow the armed conflict in Libya with great
attention," he said. "This conflict has caused a great number of
victims and suffering above all among the civilian population. I
renew a pressing call that the path of negotiation and dialogue
prevail over that of violence, with the help of international
organizations that are seeking a solution to the crisis."
The Holy Father also assured his prayers and support for
Christian efforts to help the population, "in particular through
consecrated persons present in the hospitals."
May 12, 2011
America Magazine, the Catholic Weekly | Of Many Things: Catholic
attachment to Holy Land differs from that of the Jews, but it is
a special place all the same by Drew Christiansen, SJ
Four issues ago (4/11) Rabbi Daniel Polish contributed a
heartfelt piece to these pages on Jewish attachment to Israel (“A
Spiritual Home: What Christians Should Know About Jewish Identity”).
“When Jews visit Israel, its landscape and historical sites speak in
more intimate terms,” he wrote. “It is the embodiment of the Jews’
collective past, situating us in our history and evoking its
meaning.” Rabbi Polish was eager to explain “Jews’ spiritual
attachment to Israel” to America readers because, as he wrote, “To
me as a Jew, Christian discussion of Israel seems to exist in the
realm of social issues and foreign policy deprived of spiritual
It is true, as Rabbi Polish wrote, “The two communities stub
their toes on a single issue, the State of Israel.” But the problem,
I would argue, is not the State of Israel but the policies at
certain times of particular governments of Israel as they affect the
native Christian communities in the Holy Land. Some of those
policies are the same policies that pain Rabbi Polish and many other
American Jews. But differences over government policy, when they do
exist, should not obscure the spiritual attachment Catholics too
have for Israel.
Catholic attachment to the Holy Land, including Israel, differs
from that of Jews, for in Christ all lands are holy. All the same,
Israel has a special place in the Christian tradition. Christian
attachment to the Holy Land, including Israel, it begins with
reverence for Jews’ roots in the land together with a commitment to
Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people. All the same, we hold a
spiritual attachment to the land and its people, both Christian and
Jewish. And sadly, Catholic attachment to the native Arab Christians
is a stumbling block in our relations with many Jews. Let me begin,
at least, to explain those ties.
May 11, 2011
World Council of Churches | Palestinian agreement sign of hope Tveit
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC),
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has said the recent agreement reached
between two Palestinian movements, Fatah and Hamas, holds not only
the hope and promise for a healing process within the Palestinian
community but also creates the atmosphere for a seeking "a peaceful
resolution of the conflict in Israel/Palestine".
"The signing of this agreement, for an interim unity government
and fixing a date for a general election in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip in 2012, is a significant milestone and promise to forge a
Palestinian consensus for lasting and just peace in the region,"
Tveit said in a statement released today from the WCC offices in
May 9, 2011
Zenit | Mideast Expert Named to Roman Rota
VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has named an
Israeli expert on the Church in the Holy Land as prelate judge of
the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
The appointment of Franciscan Father David Jaeger was announced
Father Jaeger is a canon law professor at the Pontifical
University Antonianum, and a consultor for the Congregations for
Eastern Churches and for the Clergy, and the Pontifical Council for
David Jaeger was born to Jewish parents in Tel Aviv in 1955. He
became a Christian in his late teens and joined the Catholic Church.
He was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1986.
He is the only native-born Israeli ordained a Roman Catholic
priest in the world.
Father Jaeger received a doctorate in canon law in 1989. In the
90s, Father Jaeger served as pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic
Church in Austin, Texas, and was on the Tribunal for the Diocese of
Austin, and then on the ecclesiastical appeals court for the state.
He specializes in Church-state relations, particularly in the
Holy Land, and he was instrumental in negotiating the 1993
Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.
May 8, 2011
World Council of Churches | Worldwide action for peace in Palestine
and Israel coming up
As part of a week-long series of events to promote a just peace
in Israel and Palestine, Palestinians and Israelis will be praying
for peace in front of several Israeli settlements in the occupied
West Bank, the separation wall and in houses of worship in Jerusalem
and across Palestine.
They will be part of a worldwide effort to affirm the human
dignity and rights of all peoples through the World Week for Peace
in Palestine Israel, an initiative of the Palestine Israel
Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches (WCC),
taking place from 29 May to 4 June 2011.
The aim of the week for peace is to encourage concerned
communities and individuals to make a common witness by
participating in worship, educational events, and acts of advocacy
in support of a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
“With the Palestinian-Israeli peace process at a standstill,
people of faith are increasingly searching for ways to express their
support for a just and lasting peace for all in Palestine and
Israel,” says the Rev. John Calhoun, the convenor of the World Week
for Peace in Palestine Israel. “The WCC has set aside this period of
seven days to encourage churches and individuals to worship and
pray, to educate and be educated, and to take action in support of a
peaceful and just end to the occupation of Palestine, in accordance
with United Nations resolutions.”
The common focus of this year's events is Jerusalem....
May 1, 2011
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | Christianity and the
Middle East: The Vanishing Church in the Holy Land
The Vanishing Church in the Holy Land
By Sir Jeffery M. Abood, KHS
The recent Middle East Synod (see Jan./Feb. 2011 Washington
Report, p. 42) has helped focus the churches' attention on the
vanishing Christian population in the Holy Land.
For two thousand years, Christian communities have thrived there.
Yet, over the last 60 years, their population has gone from their
historical level of around 18 percent to less than 2 percent today.
Never have the Christian communities in the Middle East been as
close to extinction as they are now. According to Latin Patriarch
Fouad Twal, "the future of the Church in the Holy Land is now in
doubt unless fellow Christians around the world step up efforts to
So why are these communities, long rooted in the historic land of
their faith, now choosing to leave? And what does that mean for
Christianity in the land where Jesus was born and preached?
First, when we speak of the Holy Land today, we generally mean
Palestine and Israel. Oddly enough, the Christians living there seem
almost like strangers to most of us. Many Westerners are not even
aware that there are Christians in the Holy Land. Certainly many are
also not aware that when we talk about the Christians there, we mean
the Palestinians. Whether they live in Israel, the West Bank or
Gaza, these Christians are all Palestinians (with the exception of
recent immigrant worker communities) and have been living there for
2,000 years. They live as a double minority: as Christians in a
largely Muslim culture, and as Palestinians living under Israeli